So, I'm not as employed as I thought...

I was thrilled when I was hired to work as an armed security guard by a local security firm. When I was hired, they made it sound like they were desperately short of help, and as soon as I could finish training they rushed me out to a job site where I filled in for someone who was on vacation for two weeks. The third week, I spent four days training at alternate job sites under the people who regularly work there.

Then I naturally asked what’s next. I was told that they were expecting to get a contract for a position that would require another full-time guard, and that they hoped to have some news by Tuesday or Wednesday of week Four. In the meantime, they needed someone to fill in one day Monday that week. So, I put in one day on Monday. Tuesday comes and goes. Wednesday comes and goes. Thursday I call and ask if there’s any news. I’m told they haven’t heard back from the sales rep in charge of negotiating the contract, but please check back. Nothing by Friday of week Four.

Week Five begins. Still no news, but I can fill in on Thursday for someone who’s taking time (I was told earlier that before they hired me they had NO backup for any sick or leave days). I put in one day on Thursday. Nothing by Friday of week Five. I point out that I cannot live on one day’s employment a week. The boss says that they really had expected to hear something back long before this, keep checking in.

Week Six begins. I call first thing Monday morning and the office manager says he just got in the office and hasn’t had a chance to check his computer. I figure if there’s anything they actually need me for they’ll call, since I’m starting to feel like a fool. No call Monday. No call Tuesday.

So. The possibilities are:[ol][li]They never really had any work for me other than fill-in for when people are out; they’ve been stringing me along.[]They did sorta kinda hope to get this new contract, and needed someone who could start right away if they got it; only they didn’t and don’t want to tell me to my face.[]They really do hope/want to get this contract, only it’s really more wishful thinking than anything firm and its on indefinite hold when or if they’ll get it.The people they’re trying to contract with are the ones being dicks about it.[/ol][/li]
I knew that security work was by the assignment, so I knew I might be semi-regularly employed; but given the qualifications and investment necessary, I had presumed it to be a “full time with occasional slack periods” position. So far it has turned out to be more like day labor. Have I been scammed?

So what do I do? If I look for work at any other security place, not only do I have no guarantee I won’t be stuck in the same situation, I would also owe my current company for the “cost” of the “training” they so magnaminously gave me (eight hours of video presentations and a written test of retention). And I couldn’t commit to any other temporary assignment at my old office temp place if it were possible the security firm DID need me.

I’m pissed.

I’ve been working as an independent contractor. We (the general contractor I’ve been sub-contracting with, and others, along with me) have had the following problems with the jobs or potential jobs over the past two years:

  1. We do the work, then don’t get paid. Frequently, these are people who *used to * pay reliably, but this time they can’t come up with bucks. In several cases, they went bankrupt.

  2. They pay us half the agreed amount, we do the work, we don’t get the balance. Really, a variation on #1

  3. They want us to do the work, but they don’t have the money and can’t secure financing

  4. They want us to do the work but they’re worried about cash flow and decide to put it off.

Why do I mention this? ALL businesses seem to be experiencing variations on the above. So it could be they hired you thinking they were going to get contracts, intending to get contracts, hoping to get contracts, convinced they had a contract… but the deal(s) fell through due to lack of money/financing/bankruptcy of client(s).

Or you could have been scammed.

I’m in the security biz-you’ve been scammed, and it happens all the time.

Wait, what? How would you owe them for that training? I’ve never heard of such an arrangement before, and I’m suspicious that it’s not even legal. (I do know of arrangements by which training money is taken from a final paycheck if someone quits work before a given period, but it doesn’t sound like you’d have that problem). Can anyone with expertise in this area chime in as to whether such an agreement would be legal and enforceable?

Security companies tend to operate in a gray area in regards to training. I attended a 12 hour unpaid training process for one company, for which I ended up working less than 12 hours total. Never never again. Shortly thereafter I turned down another company that told me they wanted me to attend a week long unpaid training camp with only a ‘chance’ of getting a job at the end of the week. Fuck that bullshit with a splintered board and no lube.

Minnesota state law requires employers to pay at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, including training time. Whether or not you could get this out of them is something else entirely, and would very probably depend on the services of a good attorney and looking over what you signed and agreed to.

Frankly, I wish that the state governing board that deals with Security companies would crack down on this nonsense, but from what I’ve heard, those people are incredibly corrupt and the board is widely considered to be a joke.

The company actually requiring you to reimburse THEM for training may or may not be legal depending on what you agreed to, or again, what a good attorney could get you out of.

I tried first for a Chapter Seven bankruptcy, but the lawyer said that, given the $80k equity we hold on our home, they would seize our home, pay off both both our mortgage and what we owe otherwise, and toss us the $30k left over. I noted that this was very much like doing the same ourselves, except it wouldn’t leave us with a credit rating above zero.

He looked at a Chapter 13 and said, “You don’t make enough to declare Chapter 13.” As it is, this is true and what the lady said when I tried to get credit counselling six months before, but for some reason we are still CURRENT on all of our bills. No matter HOW I have managed that, they should give me some credit.* But as it stood I was too poor for Chapter 7 and too poor for Chapter 13.

    • Note: Being highly valuable in ones field may knock you off the unemployment rolls, and will cause one to say to the dubious kid from the State, “Yeah, I put in 65.5 hours at $65/per, but if you stay in school…” but the system allows one to do it, once.

You see this shit and then have to question why people scream “Get government off my our backs. There’s too much regulation.”

There is too much regulation because every time there is a pin sized loophole some corrupt asshole drives a truck through it.

I would love it if you could find a pro bono lawyer that would sue their ass into the ground.

And the advantage for the lawyer, who needs more than what he can get from you, is what, exactly?

Umm, my reading comprehension skills ain’t what they once were, apparently. How does this post relate to Lumpy’s Pit thread?

Most of the time, you won’t even know how much you will be getting an hour, or even what your hours will be, until you show up at the job site.

I am not an employment lawyer, but sue them for what, exactly? They give him assignments when they have work for him to do. Where’s the problem?

That accounts for the caliber of some of the employees. No offense, Lumpy.

To no great extent. Relating to a thread is more MPSIMS material. Relating as it might connect to all and sundry, including the OP, is more a Pit sorta thing. Lumpy may find himself fucked by his circumstances, and he should be ready for it.

I can’t call it expertise, but I do know my company (now ex-company, still gotta get used to that) does the same thing. We charged our contractors $55 simply to go through training to learn our formatting and show us how accurate their transcription skills were. If they were crap and weren’t smart enough to improve after three or four attempts, we refused to allow them to take paying work and they lost the $55. That didn’t happen often, because it is a truly dick move, but it could happen.

I don’t know the legal side of it, but when I asked many years ago I was given some explanation about how it’s actually necessary to differentiate independent contractors from employees. And in the five years I worked there and for however many years the company existed before that, we were never nailed for extortion or anything, so I’m guessing it is legal. The company works closely with law enforcement agencies, so if shenanigans were afoot it would be pretty hard to hide them.

That knowledge is your advantage. So is the internet, and talkative receptionists. Dude, I come from both the “We have to find someone but most of these assholes are worthless,” and the, “Dean Jones, here, knows what he’s doing.” People like Mine Wife understand their roles as gatekeepers and how it is not limited to keep the morons out.

I am depending on someone much like my wife to realize that I have been doing what they do for the past ten years and have a tacit suggestion that I’d be willing to do it for half of what I was once paid. I do not press it because I’d rather go for 100%.

Sorry to hear about that Lumpy. Seems even in the hard times, companies employ nasty tricks to make money. Are you planning on paying them the difference, or just letting them take the check and have to press charges to get the rest?

Responding more to the title of the thread than the first post . . .

I’ve got a reasonably decent job in Retail Hell, but they fired someone yesterday for eating a $1.99 piece of cake she hadn’t paid for. The person in question had years of seniority and boatloads of experience. It is speculated that “they” had other reasons for wanting to get rid of her, but decided that this was the way to do it.

I respect the right of the employers to fire people who disobey clearly stated policies like “do not eat food you don’t have a reciept for”, especially due to the “if she got away with this, who knows what else she’d been getting away with” and the “one piece of free cake per employee per day equals a heck of a lot of free cake” aspects, but . . .

There’s a part of me that doubts stealing the cake was worth it.

And it makes people I work with anxious.

So while our jobs appear to be as secure as any in the present economy . . .

This. I don’t actually owe the company an outstanding debt (thank God), its just that I signed paper saying that I would owe them the “cost” of training if I quit before a certain amount of time (I’ll have to look up just how long.) So until then I’m locked out of looking for a position with any other security firm.

This is more common in my business, by the way, Government-focused IT contracting and consulting.

Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) for many years had a stipulation that once you were trained up on their implementation methodology (called Method One), you were locked in for a year (obviously they could whack you with no penalty to you, but you couldn’t leave voluntarily). They invest a ton of time and money, and got tired of seeing their Anderson-trained consultants walk out the door after they had that on their resume.

So never quit? It should be possible for you to say “I can’t take that gig as … because…”

It sounds like as long as you don’t quit you’ll be fine.